5 Simple Practices to Eliminate Writer’s Block and Attract Creative Ideas

Today’s post is by Mukesh Mani.

How wonderful it feels to be in that zone, where you are totally lost in your writing; ideas flowing effortlessly, writing without a break for a good few hours. Nothing can replace that feeling for a writer. It’s like driving a car in top gear on a buttery smooth road with no traffic.

But not every day is the same, and sometimes we are faced with moments of extreme frustration when ideas just won’t flow, sentences stop midway, and there is a whole lot of backspacing and deleting to the point where we even start doubting our skills as a writer!

All of these non-flowy, stop-and-go traffic moments can be summed up into two words: writer’s block.  And it has spared none; from world-renowned writers to absolute beginners, everyone has experienced it.

Stress, anxiety, self-doubt, fear, distractions, an uninspiring subject, and pressure of a deadline are some of the many factors that can give rise to these non-flowy moments.

So how does one tackle this issue and get back into the flow of things?

Here are five techniques that have helped me, and I am fairly confident they can help you overcome your mental blocks and get that writing project completed.

  1.  Write down all your thoughts

Let’s face it: you are a perfectionist, and you probably have this habit of juggling ideas in your mind and writing down only what feels perfect. Even though this can work at times, more often than not, it causes your mind to feel cluttered, leading to confusion.

The best way to derive sense from all the thoughts running in your mind is to write them down. Until you do that, your mind will keep holding on to these ideas, recycling them endlessly, blocking new ideas from emerging.

Even if your ideas don’t make sense, simply write them down as they come to your mind. Don’t try to perfect the idea or create perfect sentences.

You can refine and polish your ideas better once they are in the written form.

“Clarity comes from action not thought” —Marie Forleo

  1. Meditate

You have done your research, you know the subject inside out, and you have a hundred ideas running in your head, but nothing comes out when you put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. Why does that happen?

The mind in a lot of ways is similar to a computer. What happens when you have way too many programs open in a computer? Yup, it slows down.

In exactly the same way, too many thoughts can clog your mind and prevent fresh ideas from coming in. The mind simply keeps recycling the old stale ideas.

The best way to unclog your mind in such a situation would be to write all your thoughts down as covered in the previous technique. But if that doesn’t work, there’s an even better technique that you can use, and that is to meditate.

Meditation calms you down, helping your mind discard all the stale thoughts and make way for fresh insights and inspiration.

Here’s a simple meditation technique I find the most beneficial: (You can do this sitting right at your work desk.) Simply close your eyes and divert all your attention to your breathing. Feel the sensation of cool air hitting the tip of your nostrils as you breathe in and hot air escaping as you breathe out. Do this for around thirty seconds to a minute. Longer if you feel like it.

As you sit still in this way, your mind begins to settle down; you will also find new ideas rushing into you. To keep your mind free, consider jotting down these ideas and then go back to meditating.

Meditation is also a great way to increase your focusing ability. The longer you meditate, the better you will be able to focus on your writing.

  1. Shake off the stagnant energy

As writers we spend a major portion of our time sitting. Sitting for long hours without any breaks can lead to stagnant energy building up both in your body as well as your mind. And stagnant energy leads to stagnant thoughts.

So if you are feeling frustrated and nothing seems to be striking, get up and shake off that stagnant energy.

Even the simple act of getting up from your chair and walking around a bit can do wonders, but here’s an even better way to do this.

It’s a simple practice called Qigong shaking. (‘Qi’ in Chinese means energy.)

To do this, simply stand in an at-ease position and start to shake your body (in whatever way that comes naturally to you). Keep your body relaxed during the shaking and imagine all that stale energy going away. Don’t forget to breathe during the practice.

Doing this for around two minutes should be enough to make your mind and body feel completely rejuvenated.

Some other things you can do to shake off stale energy is to take a hot shower, engage in conscious breathing, or go for a jog/run.

  1. Come to the present moment

The mind can only be at its creative best when it is completely free of fear.

Fear kills creativity—be it fear of not being good enough, of criticism, of inadequacy, of rejection.

We all suffer from fear. When Ernest Hemingway was asked about the scariest thing he had ever encountered, he answered, “A blank sheet of paper.” So what’s the solution?

Chances are you have already heard of this solution before: it’s called mindfulness.

If you examine fear closely, you will realize that fear only exists either in the past or the future but never in the present moment.

To bring your attention to the present moment, take a few slow deep breaths. Hold your breath for a few seconds before exhaling. Divert your attention from your thoughts to these breaths.

Slowly start becoming conscious of your body and your surroundings. Consciously listen to all the sounds around you. Feel your heart beating and the aliveness in your body. Become mindful of everything.

As you get in this state, you are in the present moment. Take this same focus into your writing.

When you experience fear, the brain starts getting into the fight-flight mode, which diminishes rational thinking. Mindfulness exercises help your mind return back to the parasympathetic mode, which restores clear thinking.

  1. Give your mind a reset

If none of the above techniques work, it’s time to give your brain a reset.

Sleeping or taking a nap does to your mind exactly what restarting does to the computer. Plus there is an added benefit.

According to sleep researchers, while you are sleeping, your subconscious mind keeps tinkering with all the accumulated data, trying to consolidate ideas, reorder it, connecting the dots and filling in the missing links. This is also the reason why you sometimes dream about events that took place during the day.

Because of this, when you wake up, not only will you feel refreshed, you will also develop a lot more clarity about your writing project.

To get optimal results, do the following before going to sleep (or taking a nap):

  • Write down all your thoughts or do some freewriting for about 10 minutes.
  • Spend a few minutes to read whatever you have written.
  • Meditate for a few minutes.
  • Sleep without thinking/worrying about the project.

Once you wake up, dedicate the first hour of your morning to your writing. Do not check your email or social networks.

After a relaxing sleep, I am always amazed at the level of clarity I experience and how freely my thoughts flow. I also tend to come up with easy solutions to problems that I never thought I could solve.

If you are facing the dreaded writer’s block, unclog your mind by writing down all your thoughts, try settling your mind down with some meditation, shake off that stagnant energy with some simple exercises like the Qigong shake, get your mind in the present moment, and if all else fails, reset your mind and let your subconscious mind help you by taking a nap.

Mukesh is a blogger, wordpress developer and graphic designer. He loves blogging on topics related to the human mind, conscious living, meditation and mindfulness. You can find more of his articles on his website  or connect with him on Twitter 

2 Responses to “5 Simple Practices to Eliminate Writer’s Block and Attract Creative Ideas”

  1. Dana McNeely November 16, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    Thank you, Mukesh. I found all these ideas helpful and also simple enough that I’m confident I can use them. I often have trouble with brain-freeze when I’m ready to write. I was pleased to see these ideas at the end of a long day, and I plan to put #5 to the test tonight.

    • Mukesh November 16, 2017 at 7:49 pm #

      You are most welcome Dana. Really glad you found them helpful. I personally find that meditation before sleep is the best thing you can do as it helps de-clutter your mind, promotes quality sleep and I believe, also helps the mind reorganize stuff more efficiently, all of this resulting in amazing clarity as you wake up.

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